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Horsey, Horsey

John Sturrock, 16 November 1995

The Search for the Perfect Language 
by Umberto Eco, translated by James Fentress.
Blackwell, 385 pp., £24.95, September 1995, 0 631 17465 6
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Mimologics 
by Gérard Genette, translated by Thaïs Morgan.
Nebraska, 446 pp., £23.95, September 1995, 0 8032 2129 0
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... Anyone who has ever felt drawn to the remote but seductive question of what form the first human language may have taken will have been stirred the other day by Gillian Shephard’s announcement that the Government is going to spend (a very little) money on coaching our young inarticulates so that they stop ‘grunting’ and start using words. This looks rather like an attempt to recapitulate on the cheap the slow linguistic evolution of the species, as Trevor McDonald and his fellow therapists educate the grunters out of the animal and into the human state ...

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